WESTPORT -- The Staples High boys soccer team turned to the offensive for a change.
Spurred on by senior Ethan Bradeen's goal in the 12th minute, the Wreckers found the back of the net three times in the first half and rolled to a 4-1 win over Darien on Wednesday afternoon at Wakeman Field.
The scoring output matched a season-high for the Wreckers, who improved to 5-3-1 overall.
"Every game now is a six-point game. The three that we get and the three that the teams ahead of us don't get," head coach Dan Woog said. "Every game is crucial. Coming in we were 12th in the FCIAC, four spots out of an FCIAC (playoff) berth.
"For Staples, these kids feel like that's unacceptable."
"That's all we practiced this week, was following up rebounds and putting away chances," Bradeen said. "Dan always says `Follow the shot, don't follow the rebound.' He gets on us at practice for not doing that, so it just kind of sunk in."
Staples, which came off a scoreless draw against Trumbull and a narrow 1-0 win over Greenwich, gave itself some breathing room for once. Greenwald added a goal in the 19th minute off an assist from senior Andrew Travers and sophomore Andrew Puchala made it 3-0 a short time later.
"We've worked at the scoring, we've worked at shooting, we've worked at quick shots," said Woog, whose team held a 9-6 advantage in shots. "It came together today against a team that itself has scored goals in bunches."
Woog said it was a relief to finally play a match that wasn't decided by one goal.
"We got all 24 healthy players in. Kids who have worked hard all year, they went in. There was no let up," he said. "That's pretty cool."
Staples led 3-0 early in the second half before Darien got a goal from freshman Bartosz Dziedzic.
The Blue Wave lost its fourth straight match and fell to 5-6 on the season.
With Staples having earned points in four of the last five matches (3-1-1), Woog believes that his team is finally clicking.
"We did not have a rhythm early in the season. We didn't play a lot. We got rained out a lot," he said. "I think now we're getting into our rhythm and that's pretty important."
Bradeen attributed the Wreckers' improved play to a one-goal loss to Wilton on Sept. 22, which he says sparked a desire among teammates to practice even harder.
"We definitely work harder in practice now," Bradeen said. "After losing a game to Wilton 3-2 after being up 2-0, we really looked at it as a turning point in the season."
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STAPLES 4, DARIEN 1
DARIEN 0 1--1
STAPLES 3 1--4
Records: Darien 5-6; Staples 5-3-1.
Goals: D--Bartosz Dziedzic; S--Ethan Bradeen 2, Joe Greenwald, Andrew Puchala. Assists: S--Connor Weiler 2, Diego Alanis, Andrew Travers. Goals: D--Jack Fisher (4 saves); S--James Hickok (2), Noah Schwaeber (0). Shots: D--6; Staples--9.